Deported dad hopeful U.S. will allow him to attend slain Abbie’s funeral in NJ
KEANSBURG — The father of 11-year-old homicide victim Abbiegail "Abbie" Smith would be devastated if he is not allowed back into the United States for his daughter's funeral on Monday.
"God! Please don't say that! Please! Oh my God. I don't know. I can't tell you what I would do," Kenroy Smith told New Jersey 101.5 when asked about the effort by his daughter Latisha, who lives outside Washington, to secure him a visa.
One of his adult daughters in Jamaica, meanwhile, has been denied a visa based on answers to questions on her application, the family says.
Abbie’s body was found wrapped in a blanket on a rear roof of the Hancock Avenue apartment building where she lived with her mother. Her mother had reported her missing 12 hours earlier on July 12.
Andreas Erazo, 18, who lived upstairs from Abbie, was arrested the next day and charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say he stabbed Abbie in the neck with a knife. Authorities have not said whether they know of a motive.
Abbie's funeral is Monday in Keansburg with a viewing on Sunday. Kenroy wants nothing more than to see the daughter he has not seen since 2014 one last time.
Kenroy Smith was deported in 2001 on a drug charge, but he was not permanently banned from returning to the country, he says. Smith's memory is hazy on the charges and what led to him being deported.
"Actually, I did not see a judge. I was just kicked out of the United States with my three kids and my previous wife. I was not a dealer. I was an addict," he said.
"I was always dreaming of seeing her one day in the United States. I was always dreaming of her running from her mom and jump in my arms. The last time I saw her, when she sees me she just runs from her mom and runs straight into my arms. She squeeze me so tight around my neck and I just hold her tight and tell her I love her so much," Kenroy said.
Abbie moved to the United States from Jamaica with her family in 2007. She and her mom lived in Highlands before moving to Keansburg in 2015 with her mother, Carol Bennett. She is one of seven children.
Latisha Smith, who lives outside Washington, D.C., said her father could not return to the United States for two years after he was deported. "It's a minor drug charge. A charge is a charge but this one is really minor. He didn't commit murder," she said.
Latisha Smith contacted Homeland Security, Immigration and the Jamaican Embassy about getting her father and adult sister, Kenish, visas.
"It's really difficult because you really don't which office (can help)," Smith said, adding that she is working with a lawyer as well.
She said that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez's office said they would do all they can to help.
Latisha said Kenish was rejected for a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica based on her answers to two questions about her occupation and where she lives.
"You cannot judge based on two questions.You need to actually look at the documents and see what is really going on and the situation. The person who took care of my sister ... did not take into consideration the situation at all."
"My sister doesn't have a criminal record and she has kids she has to go back home to," she said.
"I have not seen Abby since she moved to New Jersey (in 2007). She's a sweetheart We're born six days apart. She's Oct. 25 and I'm the 31 of October. She was our little Scorpio of the bunch. Her life was cut too short."
The father has posted many photos and videos of Abbie on his Facebook page, including one where he lights candles in his yard and sings "Amazing Grace."
He is hopeful that he will get to see his daughter one last time.
"It just seems like there's so many rivers to cross and I can't seem to find my way over. I'm still hoping that it will work out. I keep my fingers crossed. Say a prayer for me."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at email@example.com.
More from New Jersey 101.5: